The Capital School District Board of Education meeting tonight was a packed house, in spite of very icy roads in Dover, DE. Most of the crowd was there to support the Dover High School Principal, Dr. Evelyn Edney. Edney’s contract was not renewed by the board in the November executive session of their board meeting, despite a recommendation to renew by Capital Superintendent Dr. Michael Thomas.
There were about fifty public comments submitted, but Board President Kay Dietz-Sass limited the comments to a maximum of three minutes each for two blocks of fifteen minutes each. Edney’s supporters claimed her non-renewal would set back race relations 50 years in the capital of Delaware. Some gave exact details of how much a potential lawsuit would cost the district. Edney, an African-American, was supported by several members of the Dover community. The board did add another fifteen minutes at the end of the evening, allowing an additional half hour of public comment.
In an article in the Dover Post from December 17th, 2014, a teacher at the high school said in the 12/10 Capital Board meeting “Under her leadership, she has gotten Dover High School out of the state’s partnership zone program, met average yearly progress (AYP) goals and increased graduation and attendance rates,” he told the board. “She is a leader that puts the students first and I am asking that the DHS contract be put back on the agenda for February 2015 and revisit the decision, giving more time for community input.”
Many of the commenters at tonight’s board meeting demanded to know why Edney’s contract was not being renewed. Dietz-Sass told the commenters they could not discuss personnel issues based on laws protecting employees. One commenter asked which law this was, to which Dr. Thomas told the commenter he would check with the Board attorney and would get back in touch with him. Another commenter actually said he was going to start a petition to disband the school board and would give it to Governor Markell. I don’t think the Governor has that kind of power over a local education agency school board, but they are welcome to try.
In terms of allegations of Edney’s race playing a factor into the decision, that would be tough to prove given that Capital has many African-American principals. I do think the board should give a valid reason to Edney why her contract wasn’t renewed, but I don’t think members of the community should make it into a bigger issue. There could be a multitude of issues beyond a track record of improvements for the high school. That should be between Edney and the Board. Just my two cents…
For more information on the Dover Post article from 12/17/14, please go here: http://www.doverpost.com/article/20141217/NEWS/141219820?template=printart